Text and photos by Stacie Joy
The Pyramid Club, a defining venue of the East Village scene in the 1980s, will not be reopening, another iconic NYC establishment to shut down as a result of the pandemic.
Having photographed a lot of events and personalities at The Pyramid Club over the years (including the Harley Flanagan and the Cro-Mags, Lydia Lunch and various anniversary parties), I was crushed to learn that the venue at 101 Avenue A between Sixth Street and Seventh Street would not be reopening after COVID-19 restrictions ease.
Opening in 1979, The Pyramid ushered in an era of “socially-conscious drag performance, led by the likes of the Lady Bunny, Lypsinka and RuPaul,” as Village Preservation once put it. In an oral history of the space, Tricia Romano noted: “[The Pyramid] served as a safe haven for freaks, geeks, weirdos, queers, and dreamers to come together and create. Sometimes it was bad; sometimes it was beautiful. But it was never boring.”
The club continued to attract an audience with a variety of dance parties and themed nights, such as Friday I’m in Love.
Manager Maria Narciso and her fiancé, general manager and house DJ TM.8 (aka Quirino Perez), met me outside the venue yesterday to talk to me about the closure, why it happened and what their plans are going forward.
The Pyramid Club, after 40-plus years, has closed. What happened Maria?
The Pyramid Club closing is another consequence of COVID-19. Once we heard that COVID-19 had reached NYC, we immediately decided to close to keep our staff and patrons safe. In doing so, we became the first NYC business to close. March 7, 2020, was the last time our doors were open to the public.
No one expected this “Pause” to last more than a year. While many businesses were allowed to open with heavy restrictions, nightclubs and performance venues/theaters have suffered the most. With no relief in the near future, or clear requirements/restrictions for reopening, not to mention the loss of being shuttered over a year, The Pyramid Club owners decided to close.
Can you speak a bit about how things have unfolded over the past year? Would you say this is solely COVID-related? Did you have hopes of reopening?
Quirino and I never doubted that The Pyramid Club would reopen. Throughout 2020, and as recently as two weeks ago, we’ve worked on plans to reopen. We reached out to friends in the community to provide food we could sell at the venue, even considered purchasing tables and chairs to place in six-foot squares on the dance floor, among other options, but we were never granted permission to present our plans.
When and how were you notified about the closure?
After many months of asking the owners about their reopening plans and always getting the same answer, “we’re not ready, yet” and knowing that now we had a date from NYS/NYC to open on April 2, Quirino asked once again and received a text message reply stating that due to COVID-19, The Pyramid Club will not reopen.
Any chance another owner might take over the space/name? Do you know what the landlord might be planning for the space?
For decades, managers have run The Pyramid Club with unfortunately very little communication from the owners. We don’t know what their plans are, as they are very private people and rarely, if ever, talk about their business plans with us.
You and Quirino have been hosting DJ sets on Twitch. How have those gone? Do you think there’s still a market for what the Pyramid offers?
We have worked really hard this past year to keep our community intact, close, and have grown our audience throughout this Pause. During the tougher months in 2020, when so many people became sick and we all experienced so much loss, we came together, grieved together, and supported one another in our livestream chats, while DJ TM.8 kept everyone’s mind off what was going on outside their homes.
Our community is strong and resilient: we’re survivors, and The Pyramid spirit will live on. The Pyramid Club is not just a building, it’s an energy, a vibe, and it lives inside of all us.
How do you feel about being a part of such an iconic East Village venue?
DJ TM.8 has been with The Pyramid Club family for more than 37 years. They were his first and only employer since he began working in his teens. He started washing dishes at their restaurants, became a barback at many of their now-closed nightclubs — including The Bank — and discovered his passion for music while working at The Pyramid Club, where he taught himself how to use the necessary equipment.
He worked his way up from dishwasher/barback to GM and now he is recognized worldwide. It has truly been an honor to have been part of this legendary NYC landmark. He’s very appreciative and humbled to have been given such an opportunity and responsibility.
I have always been a people person, and planning events was something I’ve done as a hobby over the years. When I met Quirino, and became part of his team, I was able to do what I love and organize events every week.
Always a 1980s music lover, The Pyramid Club seemed like a perfect match for me. Assisting him these past five years, and being employed by The Pyramid Club has had its ups and downs, but it’s been overall rewarding. You can’t put a price on friendships, and I’m grateful for the many wonderful friends we’ve made while working there. DROM on Saturday nights? Is this a Pyramid revival? What are the plans for this new venue and location?
Because we had no response from the owners for a long while, we looked for venues for booking DJ TM.8 until The Pyramid Club was able to open. Now, with the news of The Pyramid Club not opening, we are excited to announce that we have found a permanent home for DJ TM.8’s events. The Rapture Dark ’80s and Obsession Friday will take place at Eris in Williamsburg and Temptation Saturday will take place at DROM. Details and dates to be announced soon.
What are your plans going forward, and how can people keep in touch?
It has been an honor to serve our East Village community at this NYC landmark. We have continued to grow our worldwide community started by the original Pyramid management and patrons. We owe them so much for building that strong foundation.
Together with all the promoters and events: Defcon NYC Industrial, No Return Post Punk Society, DJ Rob Xtian, Occulture, and Friday I’m in Love, we will carry on and continue to be there for our community.
We will eventually change the name of our social media pages, but for the moment, we’d encourage everyone to follow us on Instagram and Facebook, plus DJ TM.8 on Twitch.
The Pyramid Club means so much to so many and many have created beautiful memories here. We truly wish we could do something to change what has happened, but we cannot. The Pyramid spirit is inside all of us though and will live on!